The county has put the brakes on a controversial proposal to spend $500,000 to install traffic lights on Alpine Road at two intersections in Ladera -- at La Mesa and La Cuesta drives.
After hearing Tuesday (July 10) from five speakers who opposed the lights, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors agreed that the matter needed further study, said former Portola Valley mayor Jon Silver, who attended the meeting.
Putting traffic lights in a community that has plenty of them already is one thing, but putting them in the arterial that leads to Portola Valley, where there are no such lights, is quite another, Mr. Silver said in an interview. "It's a big deal to us."
Besides, Portola Valley had not heard about the proposal until reading about it in the Almanac, Mr. Silver said. County staff should have notified all stakeholders, including Portola Valley residents, Mr. Silver said in recounting concerns expressed to him by the current mayor, Maryann Derwin.
Ms. Derwin asked and the board agreed to separate the traffic light plan from another Alpine Road proposal -- to redesign a bike lane near Interstate 280 where a cyclist was killed in 2010. In a unanimous vote, the board agreed to ask the county Transportation Authority to spend $175,000 to redesign the bike lane.
The Transportation Authority dispenses funds from Measure A half-cent sales tax revenues, which are devoted to transportation projects. The Transportation Authority will decide in September on this and other funding requests from around the county.
The Ladera Homeowners Association had asked the county public works department to look into ways to address congestion at the La Cuesta and La Mesa drive intersections. The department concluded that "both intersections warrant traffic signals in order to improve traffic flowing onto Alpine Road at peak hours and to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety," according to a staff report.
The department proposed that the supervisors seek $500,000 in Measure A funds for the project.
Supervisor Dave Pine, with the consent of the board, asked staff to look for grant funding that would pay for further study on the traffic light proposal and report back to the board in 60 to 90 days, Mr. Silver said.
Mr. Silver, a former county planning commissioner, said he was "really amazed" that the town had not been consulted. "I just think it was odd and a really crappy process," he said. "If you want to stir up a hornets' nest, that's one way to do it."